~ Side Story: Felicity (Part 2) ~
I dashed to the left of the second one and stabbed my sword through this man's ribs and straight into his heart. Magic Armor or not, against weapons enchanted like ours, such a thing was not something one should rely on. My brother was the one who taught me this... After all, in every warrior's life there's a moment of stupidity when they believe that Magic Armor can solve everything.
“Two down...” I said.
Braigun killed another. “Seven to go!” he grinned.
Between us, a small competition began as we mowed down our enemies, one after another. As I said, they were easy pray, and when we reached the gate, it opened as if it had been expecting us. There was never a reason to doubt Mayana's skill. The gate's room was probably locked up and covered in the bodies of the guards.
It was also now when Ellen launched her attack.
Seven boulders flew at the fortress, slamming into the walls and windows, killing more than either of us did.
Seeing this, the draconian grumbled “Magic's not fair...”
Well, neither of us believed it was fair, but when one saw its frightening might, we couldn't help but feel relieved that she was on our side. Then again, we could also use Magic Energy, so it wasn't like we were complete useless at casting spells, it was just that we focused more in Sword Skills than Magic Spells.
While we kept an eye out for any fallen debris, we continued to slaughter our way through our opponents. Blood, limbs, and broken parts of armor flew all around us. None stood a chance against us. After all, the difference in our might was quite visible, but what we kept in our minds was the possibility of encountering those special guards with fearsome battle power... or to be more precise mercenaries or adventurers above Emperor Rank hired to guard or command this place.
“What's this? Insects dare attack my fortress?” a big, gray-furred nekatar with a big body and bulky muscles appeared at the entrance to the fortress.
Wielding a halberd like Braigun, he stepped forward and showed us a confident smirk.
“Mine! Mine! Mine!” the draconian declared as he rushed forward.
“All yours, my friend.” I made a polite bow as I stepped out of his way.
“Ptew! Just one, huh? The other is too afraid to fight against a might Emperor Rank like me?” he then began to laugh proudly.
“While did you have to spoil the fun?” Braigun complained and attacked the man using [Dash].
A single strike sent him flying back, but before the nekatar could fall on the ground, the draconian was at his left and kicked him hard in the liver.
“Nyagh!” the nekatar rolled on the ground and slammed into several of his men.
“Weak...” Braigun complained.
He probably thought he was facing a Godlike. Announcing himself as an Emperor Rank, that was a very bad move. Even if one holds a high Rank, they should not needlessly advertise it in such a way. Sometimes having a higher Rank did not excuse you from falling prey to the plot of one of a lower Rank.
This, again, was something I learned from my brother while we were training. Ranks, in the end, were just a way for people to organize themselves by levels of power. As such, higher Ranks did not ultimately mean the individual was for more experienced in battle. Even though I was an Emperor Rank as well, I could still hold my ground against Braigun, unlike the nekatar over there who was getting the life beaten out of him.
“Should I kill you?” the draconian asked as he pressed the hilt of his halberd on his muzzle.
“Pwese! Spware mewe!” he begged.
With one chop from his weapon, the Emperor Ranked nekatar was decapitated. It was a foreseeable outcome. After all, the draconian wasn't one to go easy on slave dealers or those who defended them. His hatred for them was still burning like a mountain-tall fire.
“I'm taking the lead.” Braigun declared.
“I'll have your back.” I responded.
Meanwhile, Ellen kept pummeling the fortress with her boulders, killing off all the soldiers who tried to escape or head towards her. Considering the distance she was at, how quick she launched her attacks, and how powerful they were, chances were she was the safest out of all of us. The upper walls were mostly cleared of enemies.
There was no sign of Mayana, but something told me she was already inside, preparing to make her move.
So far, however, I had yet to see anyone wearing a slave collar. This meant they were either all kept somewhere in the back or downstairs in cells. I voted on the last option. It was something I would have done if I was leading this place.
Remembering my former self brought a bad taste to my mouth, but I was glad I was never going to look in the mirror again and see the face of a scumbag prince. Thanks to Illsyore, I was now proud to look at the face of the Prime Minister of Aunnar, the man who helped change the whole kingdom for the better.
Looking around, I noticed that despite the lot lurking around outside, the items put on display here as decorations were something closer to the tastes of a nobleman. This led me to believe that we may be dealing with another stray from my kingdom or someone of influence in Serdannya Kingdom.
When we reached the second floor, we encountered another soldier, a man in his late forties.
“I am the Wind Whisperer! Feel the wrath of my... GUHA!” he screamed after getting punched in the face by Braigun.
“Each and one of these weaklings makes me tear my scales out!” he grumbled.
“You were actually looking for a challenge HERE?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
The big draconian was one who enjoyed a good fight, but when it came to opponents who were far weaker than him, it sort of annoyed him. That being said, from the information we acquired regarding this place, there weren't supposed to be any enemies here with a rank of Godlike or above. Even so, we kept our guard up in case our informant missed anything.
We opened all the doors on the floor, hoping to find either our target of rescue or the boss who ruled over this place. In most of these rooms we found nothing but treasures looted or traded for the slaves, simple bedrooms used by the higher ups here, and not even one single slave or noble.
“This is the last room.” said Braigun as he opened the door.
“Well?” I asked.
“Laundry... stinky laundry. Ugh...” the draconian groaned and closed the door.
Turning around, we decided to go to the dungeons below, but just as we reached the stairs, several soldiers welcomed us with their sword drawn.
“Fresh meat!” Braigun said with a smile.
“Hiii!” the soldiers screamed and then ran outside.
“Aw...” the draconian was disappointed.
Well, they were probably hired arms, and seeing how we completely annihilated a big part of them, they probably considered it was safer to flee than to face us. Then again, if they ran outside, Ellen would have had no problem with sending several boulders their way. If they survived or not, it all depended on their luck.
Without any more soldiers trying to stop us, we rushed to the basement of the fortress, where we hoped to find the dungeons filled with slaves.
“It would have been better if the informant knew the layout of this place too...” grumbled Braigun.
“He told us enough for the amount he was paid.” I told him.
“I say he was nothing but a greedy bastard! You should have listened to me and let me put my blade to his neck... That would have made him talk...” he retorted.
“Easy there, Braigun. We might need his services in the future and making enemies of people with a large information network isn't a good idea... I learned this the hard way during the first year of my change.” I told him and then let out a sigh.
“You mean during the time of rebellions?” he asked.
“Yes... If I had known to plan better, like my brother, I wouldn't have found myself in the predicament where I nearly caused Aunnar to split in half... Sigh... Good thing brother was there. He held the strength which I lacked at that time.” I said and shook my head.
Ever since my brother returned to Elora, I found myself seeing him in a new light, and I realized that the rightful heir to the throne could be none other than him. Hence why I took the position of the Prime Minister, although, that workaholic brother of mine left me with little to no work to do... I recently started to worry for his health.
“There!” Braigun pointed ahead.
“Just as I had suspected.” I said.
In front of us were countless cells stacked full with slaves. They were separated by worth, from the cheapest, which were also the sick and injured, to the most expensive, which were allowed even to wear clothes.
Walking in front of their cells, I realized that there were of various ages as well, but at least the men were separated from the females. All of them looked at us with eyes lacking even the smallest drop of hope, but some held a deep hatred in them. The latter were probably recently enslaved and haven't been broken yet.
“I hope Mayana slit the throat of the bastard who rules this place!” growled Braigun.
With this, even I fell into agreement.
“STOP!” someone shouted in front of us.
“Who are you?” Braigun asked.
“I am Ballurad von Vanngar!” he declared proudly as he unsheathed his sword.
“Oh? Are you perhaps the noble who runs this dump?”
“I am, indeed! Identify yourself, you lowlife!” he demanded.
“Well... I am Brute and this guys is Smartypants!” Braigun said.
I felt like hitting him.
What do you mean Smartypants?! I retorted in my mind.
“Names of peasants, I see.” he smirked. “You have proven to be quite strong. I will enjoy turning you into obedient slaves!” he declared.
“My win.” said Braigun.
I glared at the draconian and took out a gold coin from my bag.
“Hehe! Shiny!” he smirked as he took it and placed it in his pocket.
This was a small bet we made before attacking this place. He said that we will meet a noble who will wish to turn us into his slaves, and I said he will just want to kill us. Apparently, I lost...
“I'll win the next one.” I told him.
“Looking forward to it!” he smirked.
Taking a step away from the draconian, I looked at the noble in front of us, who hasn't attacked yet.
Strange... I thought and then looked around from the corners of my eyes.
“Braigun... He's not alone...” I whispered to him.
My sight fell on several cages behind and in front of us who didn't appear to be locked. The doors on some were slightly cracked. I was too focused earlier on the slaves to have noticed this small detail, but if they were opened, that meant the noble's reinforcements were in there.
“How's our nekatar doing?” Braigun asked.
“No sign of her yet. I'll take care of those in the back, you take care of those in the front.” I said and then turned with my back to the draconian.
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